A Guide to Pricking Out Seedlings

Now that you have had a go at sowing seed, your plants must be ready or just about to be ready to prick out or potted on.

If you have sown seed in a tray the best thing is to prick out seedlings and transplant them into another tray in a more orderly and spaced manner.  The other alternative is to pot them on into small individual pots.

Seed can be quite erratic in its germination. I had lost faith in the Acanthus in the photo below germinating and I nearly discarded it. Luckily I didn’t. Suddenly four weeks later one of the 15 seeds I had sown germinated.  So this special plant will be the one to demonstrate how to prick out. Never give up on them!

Pricking out step by step:

  1.  Gently water your seedlings’ tray a few hours before pricking out
  2. While the water is being absorbed prepare the next container and its compost
  3. Use a compost with a bit more nutrients this time
  4. Knock the sides of the container to loosen things up a bit
  5. Use a dibber – I use a pencil! -  to loosen up the compost from beneath
  6. Hold the seedling by its top leaves – never by its stem, they are easily bruised!
  7. Gently easy the seedling out being careful not to damage its roots
  8. Make a hole in the compost of the new container
  9. Place the seedling in the hole and carefully firm the compost around it 

plant pot

Removing seedling from pot

Plant pot

plant pot

Watering is your next task.  The seedlings are still quite fragile and watering just after being transplanted is another gentle job. You can either water them from below placing the trays or pots in another tray or with a watering can starting outside of the tray so that they don’t get a strong flush of water over them.

Make sure you check on your seedlings quite frequently and make sure the compost doesn’t dry out. Water them before that happens!


Polaroid image
potted plant
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